Anthony Davis will turn down a “supermax” extension from the Pelicans, setting up a frenzied competition between the Lakers and Celtics to pull off a trade, predicts Marc Stein of the New York Times in his latest newsletter. It’s one of several prognostications the veteran basketball writer offers up in a New Year’s Day column, but it’s the most explosive and one that will dominate NBA headlines throughout the summer if it comes true.
Davis could short-circuit the story by accepting the offer from New Orleans, which would pay him close to $240MM. But Stein expects Davis to value a shot at winning over money and look to join a loaded lineup in either Los Angeles or Boston. Stein also predicts the Lakers will be aggressive in trying to talk the Pelicans into a deal before the February 7 deadline while there’s not another strong suitor in sight. The Celtics can’t trade for Davis until Kyrie Irving opts out of his current deal because of an NBA rule prohibiting a team from acquiring two players currently on designated rookie extensions through trade.
Stein offers a few more significant personnel-related predictions:
- Despite Kawhi Leonard‘s success in Toronto, Stein expects him to sign with the Clippers in July. He adds that the Raptors will likely need to win a title to keep their new star from heading home to Southern California in free agency and predicts Toronto will start rebuilding if Leonard leaves, including a trade of Kyle Lowry.
- Kevin Durant may spend one more season with the Warriors before looking to move on in free agency. Stein admits there’s a lot of chatter about Durant joining the Knicks, but he believes the allure of playing in the new Chase Center will keep him him around for another year.
- A “wise insider” tells Stein that DeMarcus Cousins will consider returning to the Warriors for another season, although they can only offer a modest raise on his $5.3MM salary. Stein expects other prominent free agents, such as Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler and Klay Thompson, to stay where they are.
- Carmelo Anthony, currently in limbo on the Rockets‘ roster while looking for his next NBA opportunity, may have played his last game. It has been nearly two months since Anthony was last on the court and it doesn’t appear anyone is willing to take a chance on him, even at a minimum salary.
- Kevin Love trade talks will heat up soon, and Stein believes the Nuggets should get involved as they try to hold onto the top spot in the West. Love is projected to return from toe surgery this month and will become eligible to be dealt on January 24, a little more than two weeks before the deadline.